Outside of March, there might be no part of the season that’s more exciting and intriguing than the first few weeks of November. After months of speculation, fans finally get to see their teams take the court, face real competition, and see whether the preseason prognosticators were accurate.
Well, the Big Ten is no exception to that process and there have been plenty of interesting developments over the first few games. As such, here are a few Big Ten teams that fans should be buying or selling at this point.
Teams to Buy:
After two seasons of underwhelming results on the court in Ann Arbor, it looks like the Wolverines might have finally turned a corner. Despite middling preseason results, Michigan absolutely dominated Marquette and SMU in route to a 2K Classic championship and should expect to be ranked next Monday.
While I’m not quite ready to call Michigan a legitimate challenger to Indiana and Purdue for the Big Ten crown, this is a much better team than it was last year and looks like it should firmly quality for the NCAA Tournament. Michigan’s road trip to South Carolina next week should offer another interesting glimpse into how far this team has come since last season.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers
No Big Ten team is more improved this year than Minnesota. This is something I expected for most of the offseason, but it’s already come true for Gopher fans. Minnesota has scored two wins over top 100 KenPom teams (matches its 2015-’16 total) and has found legitimate playmakers in Amir Coffey and Reggie Lynch.
Of course, we do have to acknowledge that at least part of this remarkable turnaround is simply due to how bad Minnesota was last year and not due to this year. It’s important to note this because even if Minnesota is better, it’s still probably not good enough to get into the NCAA Tournament conversation just yet.
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Yes, you’re not dreaming. Rutgers is being talked about positively on this site. After years or living in the dark, it appears that Scarlet Knight fans are starting to see the light of day after a 3-0 start and a road win over DePaul.
Though there’s still a long way to go before Rutgers is considered a legitimate contender for anything significant, this team already looks miles ahead of where it was last season. Perhaps the wheels come off later, but with a potential 6-0 start on the table, it’s time to start talking positively about Rutgers.
Teams to Sell:
Let me preface my analysis here with a few notes. First, I’m evaluating these teams based on where I had them coming into the year. And considering I had Maryland higher than most, the drop is going to be tougher. Additionally, I still think the Terps are a decent squad capable of improving later in the year.
With that preface, Maryland hasn’t looked all that great so far this season. Terp fans will be quick to point to big wins over Georgetown and St. Mary’s (MD) to rebut this claim, but I’m not convinced either of those teams are very good. Although a win over the Hoyas might be good from a rivalry perspective, it’s hard to get too excited about it when Georgetown drops its next game at home to Arkansas State.
Maryland will improve significantly over the coming months and a major part of it will be because of the freshman. But until Maryland shows that improvement, I’m not sold on the Terps being a legitimate top-end Big Ten team.
-Ohio State Buckeyes
I didn’t have Ohio State all that high in my preseason evaluations and that prediction appears to be on the way of being fulfilled. The Buckeyes are 3-0, but have shown some legitimate concerns and are relatively fortunate to be unbeaten.
Ohio State should still be good enough to remain in the NCAA Tournament and NIT pictures and the win over Providence looks solid on paper, but it still looks like there’s a sizable gap between Ohio State and the Big Ten’s other top teams. We’ll have to wait and see if that changes over the next few games.
-Penn State Nittany Lions
Maybe I shouldn’t list Penn State here because I wasn’t very high on the Nittany Lions before the season, but the team’s play hasn’t been very impressive so far. Not only did Penn State drop a game to Albany, but it also had to battle to get wins over Duquesne and Grand Canyon at home.
Again, most reasonable analysts thought that next year would be the year for Penn State, but some thought the Nittany Lions could turn the corner this season. Maybe that youth shows through over the next few weeks, but Penn State’s not there yet.